Bologna is a cooked, smoked sausage made of cured beef, pork, or a mixture of the two. A typical recipe for this sausage uses seasonings such as salt, sugar, pepper, and spices, plus a curing mixture that includes sodium nitrite to prevent botulism. While beef and pork are the most traditional bologna meats, exotic fare such as moose and venison can even be used. Small boutique bologna makers tend to use choice cuts of meat, but large manufacturers may use almost any part of the carcass, including organ meats, trimmings, and end pieces from other meat processing.
The meat is ground and chopped very fine, and at the big bologna factories, it's pureed so the machines can pour into casings. Like other sausages, bologna is covered in either a natural casing made from the gastrointestinal tracts of cattle, sheep, and hogs, or a synthetic casing made of collagen, fibrous materials, or even plastic. All bologna is cooked and smoked to pasteurize it, so it's ready to eat when you buy it.
American bologna sandwich meat got its name from the northern Italian town of Bologna. But this favorite of kid's lunches is not the same as the distinctively spiced Italian original, called mortadella or mortadella bologna and made in the villages around Bologna, a major trading spot. Traders may have picked up the sausage in Bologna, and the town became identified with the sausage. By the late 19th century in England and America, "bologna" had become the generic name for any type of pork sausage from the Italian town.